Thursday, September 08, 2011

Jordan Belson (1926-2011), Abstract Animation Artist

From an email via CVM and Cindy Keefer:

We are sad to report that filmmaker/artist Jordan Belson died early
Tuesday morning, September 6, at his home in San Francisco, of heart
failure. He was 85. A memorial screening is planned for October 19 at
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley. Other tribute screenings in several
other cities are being arranged, details will follow soon.

Jordan Belson created abstract films richly woven with cosmological
imagery, exploring consciousness, transcendence, and the nature of
light itself.

Born in Chicago in 1926, Belson studied painting at the California
School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute), and received his
B.A., Fine Arts (1946) from The University of California, Berkeley. He
saw films by Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren and Hans Richter at the
historic Art in Cinema screening series in San Francisco in the late
1940s. Belson was inspired to make films with scroll paintings and
traditional animation techniques, calling his first films "cinematic

Curator Hilla Rebay at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, New York,
exhibited his paintings, and upon Fischinger's recommendation awarded
Belson several grants. From 1957-1959, Belson was Visual Director for
The Vortex Concerts at San Francisco's Morrison Planetarium, a series
of electronic music concerts accompanied by visual projections.
Composer Henry Jacobs curated the music while Belson created visual
illusions with multiple projection devices, combining planetarium
effects with patterns and abstract film footage. His Vortex work
inspired his abandoning traditional animation methods to work with
real time projected light. He completed Allures (1961), Re-entry
(1964), Phenomena (1965), Samadhi (1967), and continued with a series
of abstract films. His varied influences include yoga, Eastern
philosophies and mysticism, astronomy, Romantic classical music,
alchemy, Jung, non-objective art, mandalas and many more.

Belson produced an extraordinary body of over 30 abstract films,
sometimes called "cosmic cinema."  He produced ethereal special
effects for the film The Right Stuff (1983). His last completed film
was Epilogue (2005), commissioned by The Hirshhorn Museum. He is
survived by his long time partner, Catherine Heinrich.
  (Revised bio by C. Keefer, originally for Guggenheim Museum's "The
Third Mind" catalog, 2008.)

More information about Belson and his work can be found on his
approved research pages, at

Earlier in 2011, Belson wrote a statement asking people not to put his
films online, as it did not do justice to his work.

In lieu of flowers, Belson's partner Ms. Heinrich requests that
donations be made to Center for Visual Music's preservation and
digitization work to continue preserving the legacy of Jordan Belson.
Contact cvmarchive (at) (or paypal to cvmarchive (at)

Cindy Keefer
Center for Visual Music
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 834
Los Angeles, CA 90013
cvmaccess (at)

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